A PUBLIC transport operator in East Lancashire has been heralded by the Northern Powerhouse Minister after securing huge passenger increase numbers.

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry, who holds the brief, praised Rosso following a meeting with their group chief executive Alex Hornby.

Fifteen per cent more people are using the company's services, which includes routes connecting Blackburn and Burnley with Rossendale and Bury, following Transdev's takeover of the Haslingden-based company.

Mr Berry met Mr Hornby aboard the 464 service, which connects Accrington, Haslingden, Rawtenstall, Bacup and Rochdale.

Later he said: "The figures speak for themselves – Rosso’s success is outstanding, and it’s being achieved by hardworking people who are dedicated to delivering excellent customer service. Transdev has transformed our services.

"In the last 18 months, the company has benefited from significant investment to improve the quality and reliability of its buses in East Lancashire and Greater Manchester."

Last year it was announced a £3million investment was being made in buses and services, with the 464 routes among those to benefit.

Eighteen buses were added to the fleet and the remaining 20 vehicles on the roster were overhauled.

Mr Berry added: "Many more people are now choosing to travel on Rosso's buses, and that’s very good news for the environment and the economy of our region.

"The huge improvement achieved since the company became part of Transdev is very impressive, and I welcome its success."

Mr Hornby said: "When Rosso joined our family of bus companies 18 months ago, we promised to keep on delivering a better and more reliable service for our customers, and on buses that people want to be seen on.

"The 15 per cent increase in customer numbers travelling with us shows our investment is attracting more people to choose and use the bus.

"And there's more to come, as we look to build on Rosso's impressive performance with further improvements across the region."